Avoid Pitfalls of Technology this Christmas

Parents buying smart phones and tablets as Christmas presents should be aware of healthy screen time guidelines for children and teens.

Many children and young teens will get a technology based present this Christmas. While this reflects the modern society we live in, we should also be aware of lifestyle trends and the influence of screen time.

Tablets and smartphones are useful tools in our community, but there are some helpful ways to balance screen time with a healthy lifestyle. Simple measures parents can take, such as joining in, setting aside time for screen free family time and above all setting an example themselves by not consistently using smartphones and tablets,” she said.

We know that children and teens can develop habits very quickly which are often difficult to break. Reliance on technology can lead to the neglect of exercise and healthy lifestyles.

Setting simple boundaries can mean young people can enjoy a great Chirstmas gift, while avoiding the potentially negative pitfalls of tablets and smartphones.

I have pointed to the advice offered by Early Childhood Ireland (https://www.earlychildhoodireland.ie) when it comes to screen time:

  • Agree a clear set of rules with your child on screen time in the home. Talk to your child about when you think it is appropriate and inappropriate to use screens. Agree times when screens are allowed and not allowed in the home. For example dinner time, homework time and bed time
  • Do as you say. Modelling behaviour is the most powerful way you can influence your child’s behaviour
  • Restrict the use of computers/devices in the bedroom
  • Try not to rely on screens too much to keep children amused. It can be easy to encourage children to pick up the tablet or play a game on the computer to keep them occupied. This only confuses rules on screen time. Try to stick to the agreed rules with your child and try to set a good example
  • Chat to your child about what they do online and encourage them to use their screen time for learning, education and fun
  • Pick one evening a week where you do a family activity together, whether it’s a film night or a games night. Doing activities together as a family will help implement screen time guidelines and offer fun alternatives
  • Don’t have screens always on in the background. Turn off TVs and Computers when not in use, these can be distracting for kids if they are trying to participate in another activity
  • Finally, join in, why not set some time aside to play your child’s favourite computer game and discover the online world together.

This good advice should be used year round and not just over the holiday period. Reinforcement here is key.

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